I’m reading Emma Kennedy’s The Tent, the Bucket and Me. As the subtitle explains this is about her ‘Family’s Disastrous Attempts to go Camping in the 70s‘, and that is not an understatement. I wish that I had the same powers of recall as Emma does to remember what I thought, felt and said at the age of 3. Emma is of course, writing comedy. It reminds me of those TV programmes that make you think ‘this just wouldn’t happen in real life’. I’m not saying that what she writes about didn’t happen, but I do suspect it’s been embellished somewhat.
Emma Kennedy would be great on Rob Brydon’s programme Would I Lie to You? All the events she describes would be ideal for the programme because no-one would believe they were true from the way she describes them. Passages in this book both make me laugh out loud and groan at the stupidity that led up to them. Just imagine you’re three, you’re drenched in wee (from a bucket full of the stuff that had tipped over when you tried to sit on it) and your parents told you to run naked round the car in a howling gale to wash off the wee! And that was Emma’s introduction to the joys of life under canvas.
There are more than enough toilet incidents, but these are not the only disasters that befall Emma and her teacher parents Tony and Brenda. Having put up a frame tent in a howling gale in a field on the side of a cliff they abandon the tent and break into an empty caravan on the campsite, only to find that it went from bad to worse. The caravan was ‘ a stinking hole’, the back window blew out and, fighting against the wind the front end of the caravan came off its bricks. They managed to jump out just as:
The caravan groaned; a deep crunch shattered out from its underbelly. With one terrifying yaw, the rear cracked up to the verical, tipped over and then rolled end over end, crashing down the field, metallic smashes punching through the howling wind. Then with one sliding finale, the caravan fell off the edge of the cliff.
‘We’re in hell!’ wailed Mam, as she watched it go. ‘Hell!’ (page 37)
They’d been in the eye of a force-ten gale, without realising it. Nothing daunted they carry on camping (holidays, that is) for the next 9 years.
The mobile library came last week. I wasn’t going to borrow many, if any books, but there were some on the shelves that looked interesting and the van isn’t coming again until 21 October so I thought, why not borrow them. Then we went to our granddaughter’s 10th birthday party on Saturday and our son lent me a book too. It’s the top one in the pile shown below. Finally we went into town yesterday and as I returned a book to the library there I had a quick look round and borrowed the book at the bottom of the pile.
From top to bottom they are:
- The Tent, the Bucket and Me: My Family’s Disastrous Attempts to go Camping in the 70s by Emma Kennedy. Apparently (I say this because I haven’t got that far in the book) they go to Carnac where we also went camping (well in a caravan) in the 80s. I checked on Amazon and this book has widely different reviews – some love it and think it very funny and others think it’s dreadful and not at all funny. I wonder which ‘camp’ I’ll be in.
- Borrower of the Night: a Vicky Bliss Murder Mystery by Elizabeth Peters. I haven’t read anything by Elizabeth Peters, but as I’ve seen some reviews on a few blogs, I thought I’d have a look at this one. I haven’t started it yet. Vicky Bliss is an art historian, beautiful and brainy, according to the back cover. This one is about a search for a missing masterwork in wood by a master carver who died in Germany in the 16th century.
- The Fall by Simon Mawer. I’ve read one other by by Simon Mawer – The Gospel of Judas, which I’d enjoyed. The Fall is the story of Rob and Jamie, friends from childhood, with a passion for mountaineering and climbing. From just a quick look at it, I see that it begins in Snowdon (another place where went on holiday and have camped and climbed (well D climbed, I just walked). Jamie and Rob take on greater challenges, culminating in the Eiger’s North Face. The jacket description appealed to me: ‘a story that captures nature at its most beautiful and most brutal, and which unlocks the intricacies at the heart of human relationships.’
- A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve. I’ve not been too keen on the latest books by Anita Shreve, although I loved her earlier ones, so I thought I’d borrow this one rather than buy it. I have started to read it, but just a few pages in it hasn’t ‘grabbed’ me yet. It’s about two couples on a climbing expedition to Mount Kenya when a horrific accident occurs.
- Sepulchre by Kate Mosse. I read Labyrinth a few years ago (before I began this blog) and at the time I noted that it was ‘OK but too long’. So this is another book I decided not to buy, but if I saw it in the library I’d borrow it. It is enormously long! So far I’ve read a few chapters, set in 1891 in Paris and I’m not sure whether I’ll ever finish it. It’s a time-split book, divided 1891 and 2007, ‘the story of a tragic love, a missing girl, a unique set of tarot cards and the strange events of a cataclysmic night.’ (from the back cover)
- The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd. I’ve always enjoyed Peter Ackroyd’s books and this one looked like a candidate for the RIP Challenge (as does Sepulchre). So far I’ve read about Victor Frankenstein’s love of learning and his desire to know the secrets of nature and the source of life. He has met Shelley at Oxford University, attended lessons at the dissecting room of St Thomas’s Hospital in London and is fascinated by Humphrey Davy’s experiments with electrical experiments. So far, so good. This book also has very mixed reviews on Amazon and in the press – the Guardian, ‘disappointing‘ and the Telegraph, ‘a brilliant jeu d’esprit.’
The links are to Amazon.co.uk (except for the press reviews). The only book to get consistent reviews on Amazon is The Fall. I don’t take much notice of these reviews, unless I know the reviewer, but I find it interesting to read such varying responses.